John Nyathi Pokela

Infobox Politician
name = John Nyathi Pokela

width =
height =
birth_date = 1922 or 1923
birth_place = Herschel, Transkei, South Africa
death_date = June 30, 1985
death_place = Parirenyatwa Hospital, Zimbabwe
office = Chairman of the Pan Africanist Congress
term_start = February 1981
term_end = June 1985
predecessor = Vusumzi Make
successor = Johnson Mlambo
party = Pan Africanist Congress

John Nyathi "Poks" Pokela (1922cite web| url = | title = The generation of strained intra-PAC relations in exile 1962-1990| accessdate = 2006-12-25|last = Kondlo | first = Kwandiwe Merriman | coauthors = | date = 2004-01-01| work = In the twilight of the Azanian Revolution: the exile history of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (South Africa): (1960-1990)|publisher = University of Johannesburg| pages = Chapter 4, pp 146-246] or 1923cite web| url =| title = John Nyathi Pokela| accessdate = 2006-12-25| last = Gerhart| first = Gail M.| authorlink = | coauthors =Thomas G. Karis| date = 1977| work = From Protest to challenge: A documentary History of African Politics in South Africa: 1882-1964, Vol.4 Political Profiles 1882-1964| publisher = Stanford University Press] –June 30, 1985) was a South African political activist and Chairman of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). Born in Herschel in the Transkei region, he was educated at Healdtown Comprehensive School and the University of Fort Hare. Originally a member of the African National Congress Youth League, he left the African National Congress and helped found the PAC in the late 1950s.

Incarceration on Robben Island

In 1966, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison on Robben Island on charges of sabotage related to the Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA), the militant wing of the Pan Africanist Congress; he had helped found the APLA (originally known as Poqo) in 1961, along Z. B. Molete and Clarence Mlali Makwetu. cite web | title = The Azanian People's Liberation Army Submission | publisher = Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Department of Justice and Constitutional Development) | url = | accessdate = 2006-12-26 ]

While incarcerated, Pokela worked towards uniting the various factions of the PAC. In 1980, having served his sentence, Pokela was released from Robben Island. In February 1981, he was appointed to succeed Vusumzi Make, (who had resigned after the Chunya massacre in March 1980 when APLA troops refused to accept his leadership), to become head of the Tanzanian backed faction of the PAC. His leadership was rejected by the survivors of the 500 strong APLA Chunya force as well as the Maoist PAC factions in Zimbabwe, Libya, Ghana, and Kenya but Tanzania persuaded the Mugabe government to deport or imprison the major opponents (Leballo, Leeman, Gaelisiwe, Buqwana) . [Leeman, Bernard "Mandela, Sobukwe, Leballo, and Mokhehle" Azania Press 2008]

Chairmanship of the Pan Africanist Congress

Attempts at intra-party reconciliation

Once he assumed the position of chairman, Pokela set to work reuniting the PAC, which had been fractured since the 1979 Tanzanian-backed deposition of Chairman Potlako Leballo, leader of the party from 1962 to 1979. He held talks with the 70 member Azanian People’s Revolutionary Party (APRP), a short-lived offshoot of the PAC formed by members expelled by 1978 PAC National Executive meeting in Arusha. Because of this reconciliation effort, they rejoined in 1982 and the APRP disbanded.

upport for Iraq

During the Iran–Iraq War, Pokela visited Baghdad, Iraq with a PAC delegation, and stated his support for Iraq. However, this was contrary to the position of the PAC, which was to not pick sides in a conflict between members of the Non-Aligned Movement, and Pokela was criticized for this action by other members of the party, including Henry Isaacs and Mike Muendane. Iraq later sent 50,000 dollars to the PAC.

Reorganization of the party

Pokela also attempted the reorganization of the party itself, which was suffering from both differences between various Central Committee members and differences between the leaders and the party members. He appointed outgoing Chairman Make to the position of Deputy Chairman, even though Make was being investigated for misuse of funds at the time, and increased the power of the Chairman. Pokela also encountered more opposition from Isaacs about his organizational changes (Isaacs eventually resigned.)

Under Pokela, the use of funds was set, with 50% set aside for military operations, 30% going to administration, and 20% used for propaganda; the idea of members submitting annual financial reports about their use of PAC funds was also floated. Nevertheless, money went missing at various points in time, and the PAC ran out of funds between March and November 1981.


Pokela died in Parirenyatwa Hospital in Zimbabwe in June 1985. He was buried in a state funeral in Zimbabwe officiated by Dr. Stanley Mogoba, a Methodist bishop, and was praised by Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe for reuniting the PAC. Pokela was succeeded as chairman by Johnson Mlambo.

Literature written by Pokela

*"Segregatory Bodies Must Go." "Inkundla", Dec. 24, 1949. cite web| url =| title = Pan-Africanist Congress of South Africa 1944-1959| accessdate = 2006-12-26| author = Cooperative Africana Microform Project| work = Cooperative Africana Microform Project Guide| publisher = Center for Research Libraries]
*"The Birth-Pangs of African Unity in the Sub-Continent" Manuscript, possibly written in 1962.

ee also

*Pan Africanist Congress
*Azanian People's Liberation Army


NAME=Pokela, John Nyathi
SHORT DESCRIPTION=South African political activist and Chairman of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC)
DATE OF BIRTH=1922 or 1923
PLACE OF BIRTH=Herschel, Transkei, South Africa
DATE OF DEATH=June, 1985
PLACE OF DEATH=Parirenyatwa Hospital, Zimbabwe

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Azanian People's Liberation Army — APLA redirects here. For the charitable organization, see AIDS Project Los Angeles. Apartheid in South Africa Events and projects Sharpeville massacre Soweto uprising …   Wikipedia

  • Vusumzi Make — Vusumzi L. Make (1931 ndash;April 15, 2006)cite web |url=,v.htm|title= Vus umuzi Make|accessmonthdate=2007 01 06|work=|publisher= South African History Online] was a South African civil… …   Wikipedia

  • Muammar Gaddafi — Gaddafi redirects here. For other people named Gaddafi, see Gaddafi (name). Muammar Gaddafi مُعَمَّر القَذَّافِي Gaddafi at an African Union summit in 2009. Brotherly Leader and Guide of …   Wikipedia

  • Malcolm X — This article is about the person. For other uses, see Malcolm X (disambiguation). Malik Shabazz redirects here. For other people of that name, see Malik Shabazz (disambiguation). Malcolm X …   Wikipedia

  • Thabo Mbeki — His Excellency Thabo Mbeki KStJ GCB GCMG OE President of South Afri …   Wikipedia

  • Julius Nyerere — Mwalimu Julius Nyerere 1st President of Tanzania In office 26 April 1964 – 5 November 1985 Prime Minister Post Abolished (1962–1972) …   Wikipedia

  • Jomo Kenyatta — Kenyatta redirects here. For other uses, see Kenyatta (disambiguation). Jomo Kenyatta 1st President of Kenya In office 12 December 1964 – 22 August 1978 Vice President …   Wikipedia

  • Marcus Garvey — Garvey in 1945 Born Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. 17 August 1887(1887 08 17) St. Ann s Bay, Jamaica …   Wikipedia

  • Kwame Nkrumah — on a Soviet postage stamp 3rd Chairman of the Organization of African Unity In office 21 October 1965 – 24 February 1966 …   Wikipedia

  • African diaspora — The African diaspora was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world predominantly to the Americas also to Europe, the Middle East and other places around the globe.[1][2][3] The term has been historically… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.